A few weeks back we had the pleasure of hosting Anis Khoury, a surfing, Lebanese New Yorker and film photographer that doubles as a main force in the hotel industry. This guy does it all. With only a few days in Sri Lanka, he was plenty busy squeezing in as much surf as possible before heading to Lebanon for some quality family time. After all, surf conditions aren’t quite the same in New York as they are in Sri Lanka. We spent the evening catching up over coffee about all things film photography, traveling, passions and interests, and what it looks like to be a global citizen. 1. Tell us a little bit about yourself I’ve got a Lebanese background but grew up around the world, somewhat as a nomad due to the nature of my father’s work, my education, and even my own work. I’ve been raised in the Middle East, Switzerland, and Canada. My most recent home has been New York where I’ve been living for the past six years. 2. What made you decide to try surfing? I always wanted to surf as a kid. We used to play a really old computer game on like floppy disks. One was called California games, and there was a surfing event in it. But I always lived in countries with no surf. Then when I moved to New York of all places, I heard of a surf community in Rockaway, NY. I decided to to take lessons from a place called Locals Surf School and immediately fell in love with it. It’s challenging to be a surfer in New York. Often times, it looks like it’s nothing and you always have to stay on top of the conditions. You have to be committed to going out, even when it’s not perfect to get better. In Rockaway, they’re beach break waves, also known as “chocolate barrels” from the color of the water. You just take the A train away from New York and it spits you right into Rockaway beach. The really good season is September through November, but beginners will start in the summer. If you’re goofy, you’re going to love New York. The waves almost always break left.
- I see you shoot film. How did you get into photography?
I’ve always loved photography but never took a class in it. I messed around with a digital camera a few years ago, and then let it go. When I started surfing, I stumbled upon @saltairian’s account – she’s considered like the OG of underwater analog shooting. I wanted to give it a shot. My first attempt was a total failure – I flooded my first camera (didn’t read the instructions – whoops). I started to follow the @nikonos_project on Instagram and made it a goal of mine to be featured by them. Back in the 80’s Nikon had a project where they sent out a few free cameras to their audience and said have fun and shoot with them. This year, I got featured with @kookmike on a longboard:
- What were your impressions of Sri Lanka?
I fell in love with it. From the people, to the food, to the surf – everything. I spent one day surfing a super fun wave with Petter early in the morning, followed by the most dreamy afternoon longboard session with Thilli. All that, with great coffee and breakfast at Ceylon Sliders – what more can a surfer want? I fell in love with the notion of being in the present and not constantly worrying about the stress of life, whether it be work or personal matters. This hit hard on my last day when my mind was racing about an issue back home that I had no ability to fix. I’m a control freak. But in that moment, I had no control. Being so far away and in a different time zone, I was completely removed from my ability to do anything. In that very moment I was riding in a tuk tuk to Sunshinestories. I think this was the very first time I “meditated”, or actually felt what it was to be in the present. Instead of focusing on what was going on back at home, my mind took me to everything in front of me – the colors, the scents, the feeling of being in a tuk tuk with warm salty wind everywhere, the noises of the hustle and bustle of Sri Lanka. The kicker – I had no clue where I was going. And all of that was okay. 5. Any ideas for the future? The notion of leaving New York keeps creeping up. But New Yorkers are both the inmate and the security guard. All of us want to leave in some capacity, but something keeps us there. Even as I’m here in Sri Lanka, I’ll be scrolling through Instagram and see a photo of the city and I want to go back. You can’t replace it with anything. Even surfing by day and seeing the city skyline by night is an incredible feeling. But for now, I’m not sure what the future will hold. Maybe tomorrow.